After receiving a few questions from potential Fine Travel clients about the margin we add to discounted Business Class Flights from New Zealand (or any flights from New Zealand) we thought it was a good idea to be upfront, provide a direct answer and clear up any confusion.
Travel Agents - But Agents for Whom?
The modern travel agent walks a line between being a trusted advisor for their client and an authorised agent for the airlines.
On the one hand, for our clients, we aim to save them time and take the stress out of booking their holidays or business travel. When it comes to booking flights our focus is on finding the best airfare or combination of airfares, and then making the booking process smooth - accepting different forms of payment, providing a comprehensive PDF of the final itinerary and tickets (including hard copies in ticket wallets on request), loading frequent flyer details, selecting seats, requesting special meals etc.
On the other hand, we are authorised agents for the airlines (and covered by the International Air Transport Association Bonding Scheme). We have live access to the airlines' reservations systems, accept payments for tickets into an audited trust account, undertake regular training on their services and regularly meet for updates with their representatives.
So although our primary focus is on our clients, their travel requirements and how we can improve their overall experience, the (perhaps) surprising answer is that we do not charge our clients a margin for booking discounted Business Class Flights (or any flights) from New Zealand.
So Who Pays the Travel Agent?
If our clients don't pay a margin on the airfares for our services, the obvious question is then: Who pays for our service?
In the early days of the internet there was rapid consensus about the death of travel agents or how we would need to move to a pure fee for service model (and in some countries fee for service models are common). In New Zealand, airlines continue to pay commissions - although at a significantly reduced rate.
So the answer is - Fine Travel is able to provide our clients with a free service of finding and booking discounted Business Class flights (and any other flights) from New Zealand as we are paid a commission by the airline for doing so. This commission is a cost to the airline, and does not increase the price of the airfares we sell.
what about the special offers on the Fine Travel Website?
If you look at a page on our website such as for Discounted Business Class Airfares to the UK and Europe, the prices we advertise are the final prices including all taxes. We make sure the airfare is available by making a "dummy booking" before advertising it or sending it out in a Business Class Sales Alert.
The only potential for a small difference in the final airfare is when a change in the exchange rate causes the overseas taxes to change. If paying by credit card a merchant fee may apply - depending on the airline. Airfares are always subject to availability on a client's preferred travel dates - but assuming the correct booking class is available on your preferred dates, the advertised price on the Fine Travel website is what you will pay.
What About Booking Fees?
Booking fees are now a common part of booking travel online for many internet based travel agencies (travel agencies where you are dealing with software rather than a real person).
In limited cases an airline won't pay a commission for the work undertaken by the travel agent. This is generally for travel that originates outside New Zealand (for example if you want a one way ticket from London to Auckland) or on most domestic travel (either domestic New Zealand travel or domestic flight in another region - such as within Europe or the US). In those circumstances as we do not earn a commission we will be upfront and let you know about the booking fee so you can decide if you are happy to pay it.
Does this apply to all travel agents
Generally travel agents won't charge a margin on top of airfares, however we can't speak for all travel agents. If your travel agent charges an additional margin, that is up to them.
Any More Questions?
If you have any questions about Fine Travel or the process of booking your travel, please let us know, we're always more than happy to help.